AVA’s Best & Worst Of 2011

by AVA News Service, December 28, 2011

Best Wine Industry Writing: Will Parrish's on-going series about the industrial booze business's many depredations, social and environmental.

Worst wine writing: A tie between the Chronicle and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat whose staffs turn out on a daily basis endless versions of this paragraph: "Winemaker Katy Hammond found an intense expression, evoking thoughts of the best Vosne-Romanee. The layers keep coming: sandalwood, underbrush, star anise, lemon peel, bergamot, smoked tea and spicy boysenberry."

Collection Agent of the Year: DA David Eyster who forcefully compelled chiseling 4th District Supervisor Kendall Smith to pay back $3100 in travel money Smith had claimed for travel untraveled.

Man Beater of the Year: Ms. Veronica Moreno of Ukiah. When this babe puts on her eyebrows, look out!

Dog Soldier of the Year: Samuel Campos of Laytonville, who, drunk, tried to shoot his dog while his girlfriend was holding it. Campos winged the dog but killed his girl friend. The DA's office was subsequently bombarded with worried calls about the welfare of the dog.

Educators of the Year: County School Superintendent Paul Tichinin's (perennial winner) who explained his tie at the County's swearing-in ceremony this way, “I wore Mark Twain’s tie today in honor of him and one of his statements about the fact that democracy is really solidified by a quality public education.” Mark Twain never said or wore any such thing, and the last quality public education in Mendocino County occurred before World War Two. Second place to Boonville's high school principal Jim Tomlin who, chastising a group of boys for hallway horseplay, asked one of them, "Are you gay?"

Most Promising New Judge: Ann Moorman, already discussed as likely to move on to the appellate level of the One Percent's judicial enforcement apparatus.

Pot Bandits of the Year: The Oakland-based Lights Out Gang arrived at Guerrero’s Tire Shop in Boonville to buy marijuana. The robbers, having pistol-whomped the Boonville boys, took off for the Bay Area with 18 pounds of Boonville bud, attempting to elude pursuing law enforcement by turning their headlights off, the thinking being that if their lights were off they were invisible, but only to be arrested by the CHP in Windsor for driving with their headlights off. The three Boonville growers went to Boonville deputy Squires to ask Squires if they could get their pot back. Squires is still laughing a year later.

Best Athlete: Boonville soccer star Sergio Gutierrez, now working his magic feet at Sonoma State.

Unindicted killers: Dr. Peter Keegan of Ukiah who has implausibly claimed that his highly functional wife Susan died drunk and drugged in a bathroom fall; Garrett Matson of Fort Bragg who woke up after spending the night with his former girl friend Katlyn Long who didn't wake up; Mike Sweeney, Ukiah, former member of a nutball 60s terrorist group who remains the sole viable suspect in the car bombing of his ex-wife, Judi Bari. The unifying factor here is that all three suspects are persons of means.

Love Drug Lock and Load Award: Matt Graves, acquitted big time pot grower out of Laytonville from whom cops seized two street sweeper automatic shotguns with big drum magazines, two Uzi submachine guns, a Bushmaster AR-15, a Mack 10, an M-4, and other assorted automatic rifles and pistols.

Incompetent Ab Poacher of the Year: Qiong Wang of San Francisco twice caught in one month helping himself to abalone while he was under surveillance by the Department of Fish and Game.

Most Noble Political Failure of the Year: Supervisor John McCowen for at least trying to end the County's participation in the Brooktrails (Willits) unbuildable lot scam. For years, the County has profited from the sale of these precipitous lots with no possibility of water and sewage hook-ups to unsuspecting, distant buyers. Unscrupulous local realtors and bankers re-sell the lots again and again in bankruptcy sales from which the County gets a share of the fees. McCowen's colleagues voted 4-1 to continue the rip-offs.

Fugitive of the Year: Sean Fullwood, 22, of Ocala, Florida, who came to Mendocino to buy pot while he was on the run from Florida armed robbery charges. (He knocked over a jewelry store for a mil-plus.) Fullwood, driving a shiny new black Land Rover, hid out in the Mendocino Hotel. Local cops tracked him down by asking Mendocino residents where in the village the new guy in town might be found.

Humanitarian of the Year: Attorney Mark Wuerfel said he was growing pot in Laytonville so he could provide clean water to Indians. Wuerfel's preposterous case limped on for years in Mendocino County Superior Court with Wuerfel saying things like, “I move to continue the motion to continue.”

Amnesiac of the Year: Supervisor Dan Hamburg who first voted to defund Anderson Valley's second deputy when funding was available, then, at the end of the year, complimented Sheriff Allman for keeping the position filled.

Love and Business Award: The Gualala-based internet service company Esplanade collapsed in a deluge of competing restraining orders and divorce proceedings, leaving customers without the service they'd paid for in advance.

Deadbeat of the Year: Ukiah's Sativa Morrison who told his jury that he shouldn't have to pay rent because he was a medical marijuana provider. The jury took 30 minutes to find for the landlord.

Worst Business Proposal: Another casino in Pinoleville where Indians opposed to the casino have been declared non-Indians by the Pinoleville Tribal Council.

Co-conspirator of the Year: Mendocino Treasurer Schari Schapmire's defense of investing County investment pool funds with several criminally indicted international banks.

Best Local Drink: Mary Pat Palmer's absinthe. Runner-up: Apple Farm's “Bite Hard” cider. All-time winner the Boonville Brewery's multiple brews.

Lottery Longshot Win: The Anderson Valley Health Center’s last minute miracle funding against 400-1 odds.

Least Missed Wine Magnate: Jess Jackson.

Most Missed Wine Magnate: Michel Salgues of Roederer.

Best Young Wine Magnate: Quincy Steele.

Laytonville Love Story Award: Rey Reyes of Laytonville shot and killed his 21-year-old stepson because he claimed the kid was sleeping with his mother, who is also Reyes' wife.

Dumbest Lawsuit: Mendocino Farm Bureau (et al) suing over the attempt by the State Water Resources Control Board to streamline grape growers' frost protection applications, a proposal that would allow grape growers to write their own rules. (Inland grape growers think they are entitled to unimpeded access to the overdrawn, fish-depleted water of the Russian River.

Eternal Eyesore Award: The unbuilt new County Courthouse, which is also notable for being wasteful and redundant, the present Courthouse, merely a two-sided eyesore, being perfectly serviceable.

Most Hopeful Political Developments: Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Hendy Woods

Most Memorable Public Comment of the Year: At a June meeting of the Supervisors, an angry County employee, Ms. Andrea Longoria, shouted, “You're even fucking with my bereavement?!”

Least Appreciated Lifesaving Act: Deputy Walker's arrest-rescue of Thomas Golding-Fuller who was walking down the middle of Highway 128 after the summer ganja festival in the wee hours of the morning with no idea where he was or where he was going.

The Musician We'll Miss Most: Gil Scott Heron.

The Musicians We'll Miss Least: The rest of them.

Retro Burglar of the Year with an 1850 pinole cluster: Hank Whipple of Covelo who was armed with a bow and arrows following a botched attempt at a home invasion robbery.

Best Memoirs: Jake Rohrer's Fortunate Son; Larry Livermore's Spy Rock Memories

Most Amusing Psychotic Break: Paul Hanson, former KZYX newsman who, revealed as failed lottery scammer, burst into the offices of the AVA shouting that he was the victim of "a bull dyke conspiracy."

Worst Rent Deal, Perpetual: $28,000 a month paid to Dominic Affinito by Mendocino County to house the County's Fort Bragg welfare workers. Second worst deal: The estimated $250,000 (and counting) it'll cost to move the workers across Franklin Street to the County-owned Avila Center.

Armed Robber of the Year: Flynn Washburne of Fort Bragg and Ukiah, the first man in American history to hold up a book store, and the first man in Ukiah bank robbing history to get away from his heist by bicycle.

Toothless Regulation of the Year: Mendocino County's Smartmeter moratorium.

Smartmeter of the Year: Greg Krouse of Philo.

Frontiers of Free Enterprise: Laura Hamburg's proposed pot store in the center of Boonville next door to the Valley Bible Fellowship. (Even local stoners were opposed.)

"I Do This All the Time, So Back Off You Bastard." A Special Pinot and Marie Antoinette Award to Mrs. Deborah Mefferd's for her memorably indignant comment to the CHP officer who arrested her in Philo for driving drunk.

Best Trivia Team Names: Rapture Rejects, Occupy Hendy Woods

Best (and Only Possible) North Coast Congressional Candidate: Norman Solomon

Best Article Title: Tommy Wayne Kramer's “I Am My Own Scab”

Best Hospital: St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco.

Worst Medical Care System in the World: USA's "Pay or Die" Plan.

Gunshot Survivor of the Year: Covelo’s Kenneth Hanover: “Ira Bowes shoved the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger.”

Walking Arguments For Capital Punishment: The Willits "20-Something Gang" who, during an armed robbery of a homeless camp at Lake Mendocino people, shot and killed Joe Litteral when Litteral stopped a bullet to save a buddy.

Dumbest Statewide State Cost-Saving Proposal: Closure of Hendy Woods and other state parks.

Most Overpriced Document Most Likely To Sit On Shelves Forever: The $28,000 “Efficiency Audit” of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department which failed to identify a single cost-saving opportunity.

Stoner of the Year: Joel Humecky.

Most Entertaining Public Comment at a Supes Meeting: The performance of “Red Merengue” on the harp by Art Council member Jessica Schaefer.

Worst Reason To Cut Employee Pay: The low credit rating Standard & Poor's gave Mendocino County. (Like, anybody's going to loan our broke-ass county more money?)

Most Painful Local Sports Loss: Panthers last minute loss in the championship game with Point Arena in which star three-sport athlete Garret Mezzanato was injured.

Best Book Of The Year: Frank Bardacke's 'Trampling Out the Vintage.'

Person Most Overdue For Parole: Billy Mayfield. Runner-up: Mark Sprinkle.

Best Campaign Stop Disguised As A Community Meeting: Marin County Yuppo-Guppo Jared Huffman's drive-by at Hendy Woods and Boonville.

Best Looking Girl's Team in America: Boonville volleyball small school champs.

Best Supervisor Joke: John Pinches: “Kyle’s presentation reminds me of the airplane pilot who was flying at over 30,000 feet. The pilot comes on the microphone and says, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news for you. If you look out the left side of the aircraft you’ll see that an engine is on fire. If you look out the right side, you’ll see that an engine has fallen off. The good news is that we’re right on schedule’.”

Taliban Legal Case of the Year: Chris Diaz who faces 5-99 years in Texas for carrying half an ounce of concentrated medical marijuana.

Activist Of The Year: Kathy Bailey whose calm, seasoned hand is guiding the resistance to the state's proposal to close Hendy Woods.

Best New Rural Thug Word: “Shysty”

Most Unsurprising Official Admission: Federal narc who bragged that the feds have successfully kept the price of pot higher via raids on gardens and clinics.

Issue Most Botched by Supervisors: 18-months-long SEIU negotiations which could have been wrapped in one month back in August of 2010.

Best New Cop: Deputy Craig Walker.

Best Old Cop: Deputy Keith Squires.

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